When news broke back in September that the NBA was considering putting nicknames on the backs of players' jerseys for select games this season, there were plenty of people — including some players — who didn't seem particularly excited about the idea. One fairly friendly take, though, came from Miami Heat sharpshooter Ray Allen, who seemed amenable to the idea in speaking with Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press:
"It shows growth in our league and it shows we do adapt to what's going on around us," said Allen, the Heat guard who plans to wear Shuttlesworth on his jersey, a nod to his character from the "He Got Game" film. "And we're still kids, playing a kids' game. Even though we're now men playing a kids' game, we still remember where we come from. Everybody had a nickname and it's a way to let the fans in a little bit more." [...]
"Fans will like it and so will a lot of the players," Allen said. "Guys will get a good kick out of it."
Now, thanks to the writer and director of the film that introduced Allen to cinephiles back in 1998, we can begin getting a good kick out of it with our first look at an honest-to-goodness Jesus Shuttlesworth jersey in something other than the blue and white of Lincoln High.
From Spike Lee's Instagram:
For A Few Select Games My Main Man Ray Allen Will Wear JESUS SHUTTLES WORTH On THe Back OF His Jersey. The Legend Of HE GOT GAME Continues To Grow.Da Greatest Joint About BALL Ever Made.YA-DIG? SHO-NUFF
Relative diggings and nuff-sho'ing aside, it is kind of wild that the name "Shuttlesworth" is going to appear on a jersey in a real NBA game 15 years after "He Got Game" hit theatres, with Allen now in the twilight of his career but still knocking down just under 39 percent of his 3-point shots and playing an integral role for the 18-6 Miami Heat. You wonder if it's got Spike thinking sequel again; he made mention of it while chatting with Allen a few months back, but he might be a bit too busy to work on reviving the Shuttlesworths now that he's got the funding for his new "blood addiction" epic, "The Sweet Blood of Jesus." Unless, of course, this has all been an elaborate ploy to set up a sneak-attack Jesus-and-Jake follow-up ... which would seem weird.
(One note, though: What's up with the "J." on the NOB? Is there going to be another Heat player with the last name Shuttlesworth on his jersey as a nickname? Like, is Norris Cole going to be introduced for the game as "Erasmus Shuttlesworth" or something? I'm not opposed to it, per se — just a little confused by it.)
According to multiple reports, Allen and his Heat teammates will wear the so-called "Name Collection" jerseys four times this season — once on the road (against the Brooklyn Nets on Jan. 10) and three times at home (against the Boston Celtics on Jan. 21, and against the Nets on March 12 and April 6). The Nets have a couple of additional "alternate home uniform" dates on their calendar, though it's not confirmed that those will be "Name Collection" games.
I reserve the right to dislike ridiculous monikers should they arise — I'm still preemptively bummed at the prospect of a "Three" or "WoW" jersey for Dwyane Wade — but the Shuttlesworth strip seems like a pretty decent opening salvo to me. What do you think?
Hat-tip to Beyond the Buzzer.
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